The Nature of the Imagination

The Nature of the Imagination

Before landing on the North Pole, Elizabeth Arnold and her fellow plane travelers were warned that there was a crack on the ice. The plane, and Elizabeth, made it. Photo: Elizabeth Arnold

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All of us—even those who never leave the backyard—can clearly picture distant locales. (Quick! Imagine the Amazon!) Why is that? In this hour we try to answer.

We peer into habitats frozen in time at the American Museum of Natural History. We watch nature documentaries with David Attenborough. We travel to the North Pole—really—to see what there is to see. And, finally, we visit a place where imagination will just have to do: Mt. Kailash in Western Tibet, whose summit is home to the gods and – naturally – off limits to humans.

Photo Gallery: A collection of photos and archival images from these stories

90 Degrees North

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Elizabeth Arnold at North Pole

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Arnold

North Pole ~ At the top of the planet, unmoored ice speeds over the North Pole. Elizabeth Arnold heads north and tries to set foot on it. Produced by Elizabeth Arnold.

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Nature Junkies

United States ~ Seeing nature is a need, like eating or sleeping. But a lot of people can't go out and sit in the woods once a week. No time. No woods nearby. So what do you do? Ariel has 75 wildlife documentaries in her Netflix queue. Dave and Melissa unwind with Animal Planet. Donal visits far flung jungles in Hi Def from his family room. The revolution will not be televised. But nature will be. And it's a big hit. Produced by Sean Cole.

A Window in Time

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Alaska Brown bear diorama

Belmore Browne painting a background for the Alaska Brown bear diorama in the Hall of North American Mammals. Photo courtesy of Stephen C. Quinn.

New York ~ For a century, while their living counterparts have grown, mated, died and—sometimes—vanished, the meticulously taxidermied animals at the American Museum of Natural History have held their heads just so. For many visitors, this is as close as they ever get to nature. We take a tour of the diorama hall with senior project manager at the Museum, Steve Quinn. Produced by Ann Heppermann and Kara Oehler.

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Circling the Center of Creation

Mt. Kailash, Tibet ~ Mt. Kailash is one of the world’s most venerated—and least visited—holy sites. Walking its circuit alongside pilgrims, yaks and yogis, Scott Carrier finds out why. Produced by Scott Carrier.

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Photo Gallery


Production: Atlantic Public Media. Curated by Jay Allison and Emily Botein.
 Supported by The Nature Conservancy and Visa.

The Nature Conservancy VISA